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AAA: Thanksgiving Travel to Rise to Near Pre-Pandemic Levels


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AAA: Thanksgiving Travel to Rise to Near Pre-Pandemic Levels
Nearly 55 million Americans are projected to travel during the long holiday weekend

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. This is a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. This year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000*. For purposes of this forecast, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five-day period from Wednesday, November 23 to Sunday, November 27.

“People are eager to get back to creating memories with their families and friends this Thanksgiving,�?? says Bevi Powell, senior vice president, AAA East Central. “The nearly pre-pandemic levels of travelers will mean nearly pre-pandemic levels of congestion, and motorists should strategically plan when they leave and pack plenty of patience for the drive.�??

Most travelers (nearly 49 million people) are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen 0.4% from 2021, car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels. 

Air travel is up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume. Americans are also ramping up travel by other modes of transportation. More than 1.4 million travelers are going out of town for Thanksgiving by bus, train, or cruise ship. That’s an increase of 23% from 2021 and 96% of the 2019 volume. 

*2005 and 2019 have been the busiest years for Thanksgiving travel, respectively, since AAA started tracking in 2000. 

East South Central region Memorial Day Forecast Highlights:
*Region includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

Method of Travel

Total Travelers

% Change from 2018


2.9 million

+ 0.3%

Air travel


+ 6.1%

Other (bus, train, ship, etc.)


+ 19.1%

Region Total

3.1 million

+ 0.6

Best and Worst Times to Travel
INRIX expects severe congestion in several U.S. metro areas, with some drivers experiencing more than double normal delays. Highways in and around Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles will be the busiest. To avoid the most hectic times, INRIX recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday or before 11am on Thanksgiving Day and avoiding travel between 4pm-8pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  

Best & Worst Times to Travel (by car)


Worst travel times

Best travel time


11:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Before 8:00 AM, after 8:00 PM


11:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Before 11:00 AM, after 6:00 PM


4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Before 11:00 AM, after 8:00 PM


4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Before 2:00 PM, after 8:00 PM


4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Before 11:00 AM, after 8:00 PM

AAA to rescue more than 411,000
Roughly 411,500 motorists are expected to call AAA nationwide for roadside assistance this Thanksgiving holiday, with dead batteries, tows, flat tires and lockouts as the leading calls. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility ( to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. And remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.

Top Destinations

AAA has compiled a list of the top domestic destinations based on flight, hotel, and rental car bookings for Thanksgiving week. Orlando and Anaheim top the list again, as they did in 2021 and 2019, while two new additions round out the top 10 this year: Chicago and Charlotte.



Average Hotel Booking*

Prices Compared to 2021


Orlando, FL




Anaheim, CA




Las Vegas, NV




New York, NY




Atlanta, GA




Phoenix, AZ




Dallas/Fort Worth, TX




Denver, CO




Chicago, IL




Charlotte, NC



*AAA hotel data reflects average booking prices for entire stays during Thanksgiving week, which vary in length. These are not nightly rates.

Travel Forecast 

In cooperation with AAA, S&P Global Market Intelligence developed a unique methodology to forecast actual domestic travel volumes. The economic variables used to forecast travel for the current holiday are leveraged from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s proprietary databases. These data include macroeconomic drivers such as employment; output; household net worth; asset prices, including stock indices; interest rates; housing market indicators, and variables related to travel and tourism, including gasoline prices, airline travel, and hotel stays. AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence have quantified holiday travel volumes going back to 2000.

Historical travel volume estimates come from DK SHIFFLET’s TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm. The PERFORMANCE/Monitorsm is a comprehensive study measuring the travel behavior of U.S. residents. DK SHIFFLET contacts over 50,000 U.S. households each month to obtain detailed travel data, resulting in the unique ability to estimate visitor volume and spending, identify trends and forecast U.S. travel behavior—all after the trips have been taken.  

The travel forecast is reported in person-trips. In particular, AAA and S&P Global Market Intelligence forecast the total U.S. holiday travel volume and expected mode of transportation. The travel forecast presented in this report was prepared the week of October 10, 2022.   

About S&P Global Market Intelligence

At S&P Global Market Intelligence, we understand the importance of accurate, deep and insightful information. Our team of experts delivers unrivaled insights and leading data and technology solutions, partnering with customers to expand their perspective, operate with confidence, and make decisions with conviction.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is a division of S&P Global . S&P Global is the world’s foremost provider of credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and workflow solutions in the global capital, commodity and automotive markets. With every one of our offerings, we help many of the world’s leading organizations navigate the economic landscape so they can plan for tomorrow, today. For more information, visit ( .

About DKSA 

DK SHIFFLET boasts the industry’s most complete database on U.S. resident travel both in the U.S. and worldwide. Data is collected monthly from a U.S. representative sample, adding over 60,000 traveling households annually, and is used daily by leading travel organizations and their strategic planning groups. DK SHIFFLET is an MMGY Global company. 

About INRIX  

Founded in 2004, INRIX pioneered intelligent mobility solutions by transforming big data from connected devices and vehicles into mobility insights. This revolutionary approach enabled INRIX to become one of the leading providers of data and analytics into how people move. By empowering cities, businesses, and people with valuable insights, INRIX is helping to make the world smarter, safer, and greener. With partners and solutions spanning across the entire mobility ecosystem, INRIX is uniquely positioned at the intersection of technology and transportation – whether it’s keeping road users safe, improving traffic signal timing to reduce delay and greenhouse gasses, optimizing last mile delivery, or helping uncover market insights. Learn more at

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 70 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  News releases are available at ( .  Follow us on Twitter ( and Facebook ( .


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